The Sandiganbayan has affirmed the graft conviction of former Mayor Datu Umbra Bayam Dilangalen of Northern Kabuntalan in Maguindanao del Norte and two other town officials in the irregular procurement of a water impounding project in 2011.
Dilangalen, former Municipal Accountant Rahima Ali and then Municipal Treasurer Kabiba Mael have been sentenced to six to seven years in prison each with perpetual disqualification to hold public office.
They filed separate motions to reconsider the decision handed down by the anti-graft court last Sept. 9.
Dilangalen told the court there was insufficient evidence to prove that he acted with evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, and there is likewise no proof that he gave unwarranted benefit to FFJJ Construction, which was given the contract for the Small Water Impounding Project (SWIP) for P5 million.
Ali and Mael, on the other hand, stressed that not all elements of graft were present in the case filed against them.
In a resolution issued last Nov. 29, the Sandiganbayan denied their motions for lack of merit.
The court stressed that unwarranted benefit was indeed given to FFJJ Construction when full payment of the contract price was made even before the project was completed. In doing so, FFJJ Construction neither used its own funds nor risked any loss, it said.
Even if the project was completed, the court said that damage to the government is not a necessary element for a violation of graft. “The lack of damage in view of the completion of the project is not significant in this case,” it said.
The 25-page resolution was written by Associate Justice Maryann E. Corpus Mañalac with the concurrence of Fifth Division Chairperson Rafael L. Lagos and Associate Justice Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega.